Thunderbird: Chapter Twelve

Starting File Sequence…  Thunderbird
Loading Digital Data…    Chapter Twelve
Initializing Play Back…  Artificial Intelligence
Galaxy:   Milky Way Galaxy
Cluster: Far Rim
System:   Dholen
Location: Gotha
Date:     2186 CE
Soldier_Geth_Juggernaut

Consensus

“We arent really gonna keep that thing!” Kritt shouted as he paced back and forth. He stood in the hall the between the Tech lab and the Medical bay. He pointed at Vicia and continued, “This is a geth! It goin’ to kill us all before we even have a chance to do anything.”

“I understand how you feel,” Vicia said.

“How I feel?” Kritt turned to her, “How I feel? I want that thing off my ship!”

Kritt stormed off toward the bridge. Exasperated, Vicia followed him. She entered the bridge. Inside, Tasi and Ip stood on one side of the room while Yatka and Scylla stood on the other. AVI stood near the door with her hands clasped behind her. Vurtak leaned against the door to the escape pod. Kritt stormed passed everyone and headed to the pilot chair.

On the several screens at the back of the room were a live security feed of the sealed off room on the starboard quarter of the ship. Tasi stared at one of the screens. There was the ships power plant in the corner. It was blocked off with a kinetic barrier, preventing the geth from interfering with it. Tasi noticed another device closer to the entrance. It was also walled off. This was her first view of the room that she had yet to go into.

The geth stood looking down at the arm from the Engineer. It seemed to be fiddling with it or making repairs. Quietly, it seemed to be humming to itself. It paused and looked up at the camera before returning to its task.

“So, are done yelling at each other now?” Vurtak shifted his weight slightly.

“Now that I’ve listened to everyone’s opinion,” Vicia ignored the krogan’s comment, “What are we going to do with the geth?”

“Throw it out the airlock!” Kritt shouted from his seat. He didn’t even bother looking at the group behind him.

Ip chimed in, “If we are going to dispatch of the geth, may I suggest that we disable and dismantle it for scientific purposes. The geth are virtually unknown and typically keep to themselves confined within the Terminus Systems. This would be a wonderful opportunity—”

“We don’t need the essay, pipsqueak,” Vurtak smirked.

“It is also good to inform you that geth typically self-destruct to prevent tinkering,” AVI reported, “I would be dangerous to attempts such an examination.”

Scylla stood and started signing. Yatka glanced over at her and interpreted, “She wants the geth to stay. To be fair, it did save Scylla when I couldn’t. It’s good in my book.”

Kritt turned around, “Are you serious!? It only helped so it could get off the station before it turned into an electronic graveyard. That thing could just be waitin’ to kill us when it gets the chance!”

“If it wanted to kill us, it would have done it already,” Vurtak stated.

Vicia sighed and rubbed her temples.

Tasi turned from the screen and to the others in the room, “How is it still moving? It shouldn’t be moving like it is.”

Everyone quieted down. Kritt crossed his arms, “What the absolute heck are you talking about?”

Tasi pointed at the screen, “Geth are a neural network. They essentially share their processing power, distributing low-level processes to free up bandwidth for higher reasoning and complex thought. For example, an individual only has the basic intelligence of an animal. In larger groups, they can reason, analyze situation, and make tactical decisions. Since it is by itself, it shouldn’t be able to communicate let alone fixing a complex piece of electronics.”

All eyes fell on the screen. The geth continued its quiet tinkering using the tools it had at its disposal. No one said a word.

“Should we try talking to it?” Ip suggested.

“I’m not doing it,” Kritt leaned back.

“For everyone’s safety,” AVI suggested, “I volunteer to question the subject.”

Kritt looked at her with wide eyes and shook his head, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Yatka rolled his eyes, “Make up your mind.”

Scylla threw her hands up in frustration and stormed out of the room. She walked briskly down the hall and toward the ships powerplant room. With arms crossed, she looked up at the camera and front of the door waiting.

Vicia stepped onto the CIC and pressed a button. The door opened and Scylla walked inside. All eyes looked to the screens at the back of the bridge.

The door closed behind Scylla as she approached the geth. It looked up at her as it continued to tinker with the arm. Scylla signed a greeting and the geth nodded in return. It didn’t seem to want to harm her in any way. The geth made a strange electronic guttural sound. Scylla appeared to understand but pointed to the camera.

The geth spoke, “My apologies, Companion-Scylla. Verbal communication is seen as an inefficient form of communication. What would you like to know, Companion-Scylla?”

What is your name? Why are you here?

The geth thought a moment, “This mobile unit was given the name Consensus for organic use. I was sent to investigate many disappearances of geth and neutralize possible source.”

How are you capable of higher intelligence without more geth around?

“This is a geth mobile platform. After a successful test result, it was decided to create more geth mobile platforms able to operate independently and interact with organics. This unit houses 2,137 geth programs for higher thinking processes.”

Do you want to harm us?

The geth shook its head, “It is not in our mission objective to harm you or your crew. Unless an attempt is made to harm or deactivate this unit, the others have nothing to fear. May this unit make an inquiry, Companion-Scylla?”

Scylla nodded.

“How is Companion-Scylla and this unit connected?” Consensus asked.

Scylla was silent for a few moments. The lights in the geth’s photoreceptors flickered slightly as they seemed to be communicating mentally. After a few moments, Consensus spoke.

“Information stored in memory stores,” it said. It seemed to think for a moment, “May this unit make a request, Companion-Scylla?”

Again, Scylla nodded.

“Companion-Scylla, assisted this unit and rescued it from Cerberus. Cerberus is responsible for Companion-Scylla’s unethical modifications. This unit would like to return the favor and assist in defeating Cerberus,” Consensus extended its hands toward Scylla.

The Engineer’s arm was no longer armored and now completely fixed. It was a sleek black jointed right arm. Scylla looked down at her own right arm, a substantially older model. She sat on the floor and disconnected her own arm. With her old arm detached, Scylla threw the arm to one side. She accepted the new arm and fitted it into her shoulder socket. After a few moments, the arm was set in place. She moved her fingers then the rest of her arm.

Consensus offered its hand to help Scylla to her feet. Scylla grasped Consensus’ hand and pulled herself to her feet.

“This unit is proficient in mechanical repairs,” Consensus said, “In order to be most advantageous, this unit will need to interface with the ships AI in order to fully understand the inner workings of the ship.”

AI?

Consensus nodded, “After a complete analysis, this unit detected a secure firewall around one of the devices in the room. Such a well secured firewall is typically associated with an AI’s specialized quantum computer or more commonly known as an AI’s ‘blue box’. This unit detected a device linked to the AI aboard the shuttle.”

Scylla looked up at the camera. On the bridge, all eyes turned to look at AVI. The android stepped back nervously. For the first time, the android broke its stoic appearance, looking worried. She bumped into one of the desks and continued moving toward Kritt.

“She was an AI this whole time?” Vicia asked.

Ip clapped her hands, “Fascinating!”

“Is that why we were never able to enter the room earlier?” Tasi asked, “AI’s are illegal. You didn’t want anyone figuring out that AVI was an AI and disconnecting her, right?”

Ip smiled, “Are you saying that AVI is in control of all of the automatic systems of the entire ship?”

“I’m guessing that she’s shackled from her initial programming,” Vicia rose from her chair, “The Counsel purposefully outlawed AI because they believe that organic and synthetic life struggle to co-exist.”

Kritt stood up and moved protectively in front of AVI, “Oy! I don’t care what ya say! Ya leave ‘er alone! I’ll take on any one of you ‘fore I let ya lay a finger on ‘er! She’s saved my life mor’n’I can count! Same goes for the lot of ya!”

Vicia raised her hands, “Hey, no one’s going to hurt her.” Vicia sighed, “Honestly, AVI has done right by us and the geth seems to have the best intentions. Does anyone have a problem with our synthetic crew?”

When no one answered, Vicia continued.

“Good,” she turned to Tasi, “Go through the data you obtained and find us a new location. Yatka,” she glared at the drell, “We need to talk about you disobeying a direct order in coming after us.”

Yatka shrugged his shoulders, “You follow rules. I follow my gut. This time, my gut what right. The way I see it, I saved Scylla’s life and frankly she’s all I care about.”

Vicia glared at him before turning to AVI, “Show the geth—Consensus—everything you know about the ship. You’re part of this team too.”

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